5/21-5/22, A Nestling! (The Gloom Lifts)

Red-Tail Nestling
First Cathedral Nestling Sighting

Despite the depressed feeling that came from deciding last weekend that the red-tailed nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine had failed, I kept making visits over to the nest corner this past week. And finally, there was a reason for good cheer!

A brief visit late Sunday revealed only an adult perched on the roof at St. Luke's hospital, switching places once and then flying off during the five minutes that I was there. Monday, there wasn't even that much to see.

Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. found mama Isolde perched on "Tristan's urn", at the southeast corner of the hospital roof.

Red-Tail atop St. Luke's

But she took off five minutes later while I was checking on the goose nest in Morningside Park. With apparently nothing to be seen in the nest and the weather being chill and feeling iffy, I left too.

Thursday was also a bit chilly but nevertheless a gorgeous day. Walking down 113th St. at 6:20, I could see Isolde perched on her favorite chimney near the southeast corner of the hospital roof.

Red-Tail atop St. Luke's

And looking up at the nest... Hmmmm. Even with backlighting and no special optics, there seems to be something pale sticking up in the nest. Point the camera and click... the picture at the top of this post was the first that I got of a red-tail nestling sitting high in the cathedral nest. As I moved to get a better angle of view, the nestling took notice of me.

Red-Tail Nestling

I took a few more pix and then watched the nestling through binoculars. It continued looking around for the next five minutes, then at 6:27 stood and turned around so that it could retreat into the hidden back corner of the nest. In doing so it exposed almost all the right side of its body, and there was a sign of dark feathers beginning to come in along the edge of its wing.

That was all I was to see of a nestling this evening, but a bit more nestling news did come up a bit later.

About 6:50, Isolde disappeared from the chimney. A phone report from James indicated that from his new eyrie on St. Nick Ave., he had seen both Isolde and Norman perched on the tall hospital chimney 10-15 minutes later. One of them (Norman?) soon took off. The other stayed up there until past 7:30 before diving off. It (Isolde?) soon re-appeared on another section of the hospital roof overlooking Morningside Drive, where she stayed for five minutes before taking off again.

Red-Tail atop St. Luke's

Meanwhile, neighborhood dogwalker Dottie had passed by and reported that a day or two ago, while taking Captain on his morning stroll, she thought she saw two baby hawk heads pop up in the nest.

Checking back on last year's hawkwatching reports, it's apparent that there's been a major change in the behavior of Isolde in watching over her kid(s). Last year during the week of May 20, she would be seen sitting in the nest with the nestlings, and her episodes of watching the nest from a perch across the street or across the park were much shorter, i.e., 15 minutes or less.

Is the change because of the stress of dealing with the workmen stomping around up on the cathedral roof? Or because of having a new mate, whose behavior is much different from the old? Or remember that last year she was looking frazzled from dealing with three nestlings, and perhaps she's taking a more "hands off" approach this time around? And it could just be "all of the above".

Posted 5/22/2008 09:19:00 PM by Robert

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